Lydia Jones, an 18-year-old tech entrepreneur in England, experienced it early in her career and decided to speak out. It started when she reached out to another tech entrepreneur for advice on meeting startup mentors in London. Her startup Trooops is based in the north of England, and she said she was having a hard time finding connections and funding in that region.
But the conversation quickly got creepy. First, she said he asked her if she was single, when she was clearly looking for career advice and not to have a personal conversation. When she plainly said "No," he kept going. Eventually finding out that she's a lesbian, he responded, "Oh that's cute!!" (um, okay), and kept prying with questions like, "So men don't turn you on at all?"
When Mashable reached out to him, he used the fact that she said she was open about her sexuality as an excuse to continue harassing her, completely missing the point. Just because she said "Yeah" with a smiley face when he asked her if she was "open" — whether or not she was being honest or just trying to get him off her case — doesn't mean he had an invitation to continue his clearly unwanted advances.
"In the end I didn't say much else because I found out that it wasn't appropriate to ask her even though she said she was open," he said. "I understand how the digital and text word can be misunderstood but if this was said in person it wouldn't have been a big deal."
He added: "If you heard me talking in person you'd know I'm a nice person and I'm a very open conversationalist."
Nice try, but there's no ambiguity in those texts. They're inappropriate in a work context — on or offline — which is clearly how she approached the conversation. They also betray a larger problem about the tech industry.
"In my opinion, this vibe won’t really change until we have a female founder or CEO of a platform on the same scale as a Airbnb or Twitter," Jones told Mashable. "But it should not have to be that way for women to be heard."